Climbing the Gender Ladder
|Image from Armand Khoury|
As I always point out, changing genders is an incredibly difficult and intricate task. For those of us who struggled for years just to fit in as part of the male world, undoing it all and joining the feminine side seems to be insane. Who would do that? Of course being a transgender woman or man, you would know the answer. We had no choice . All of it makes the thought pattern ridiculous to think we made a conscious choice to give up one life to transition to another. Again, we made the choice but often the decision involved a life or death situation. Which is what happened to me. "JoannaS" recently commented on a similar idea I would like to share:
"What you are describing is incredibly common for a trans person as they advance into their identity. The focus on externals drops off and the internals become far more important. You have passed that awkward stage which is akin to another puberty and stabilize into every day living"
Thanks for the comment! Looking back I think my advancement through another puberty and the stabilization process into living as a transgender woman was similar to climbing a ladder, then jumping off. At first it was difficult to shed all my male weight I was carrying around. Literally I took weight off to look better in my clothes and figuratively I had all the ingrained male responses to society I had picked up over my many years of living. An example would be I needed to replace the perpetual male scowl I had perfected to keep people away and replace it with a more feminine softer look. After all, the last thing I wanted to do was to have people think I was grumpy and/or unreachable.
Through the process, as I climbed higher and higher on my new gender ladder, the more I understood again how I was afraid of heights. What would become of my life if I left all of my old male self behind and all the privileges I had accumulated. As, as Joanna said, when I finally was able to pass through another puberty, my thought processes cleared out and began to see what privileges a feminine life could offer me. The main benefit or privilege was I could feel natural in the world. Especially following beginning hormone replacement therapy, my universe went through a very real and welcoming softening. Sure my outward appearance softened with my skin but my inward feelings became more understanding to others around me as the effects of testosterone went away.
What I couldn't understand was why my male self was still fighting so hard to still hang around and control part of my life. The farther up I climbed along with my increasing ability to exist and communicate with my new world, still, there he was still tagging along. I needed to fight constantly to not dress for him but to blend in with the world was one example of many. Finally I climbed too high and was able to see my new feminine gender world for the wonderful future it offered. I just needed the courage to jump. What was left of my male self was telling me the landing would be a rough one and even result in a disaster. At the same time my suddenly stronger inner woman, emboldened by all her recent successes was pushing me to take the final leap of faith and jump.
You all know the rest of the story. I did summon up all the courage I could to live my life as a full time transgender woman. What I didn't realize how many new found women friends I had to help me into their world. It made me wonder again and again why I waited so long to jump off my gender ladder.